Tuesday 23 January 2018

Gardai fear fresh gang war after weapons find

Ralph Riegel and Barry Duggan

GARDAI fear renewed gang war in Limerick after a terrifying weapons supply network was smashed in Cork.

The notorious McCarthy-Dundon gang are feared to have tried to arm themselves with some of the most high-powered weaponry ever seen in Ireland, including Russian-designed RPG-7 rocket launchers.

One senior Garda source last night told the Irish Independent that had the criminals got their hands on the weaponry, they would have been more heavily armed than gardai and some army units.

Gardai are now to massively tighten security around Limerick amid fears the city's two feuding gangs are preparing for another bloody confrontation.

The two gangs have engaged in tit-for-tat killings over the past four years since the murder of Kieran Keane at Drombana on January 29, 2002.

Five Limerick men - two of whom were members of the McCarthy-Dundon family - were subsequently jailed for life after being convicted of the murder of the Limerick crime boss and the attempted murder of his nephew, Owen Treacy.

The seizure represents one of the largest single weaponry recoveries from criminal elements - and one of the biggest firearm seizures by gardai since the crackdown on subversives in the 1980s and '90s.

The seizure followed close liaison between the Garda, Interpol and a number of EU police forces about weapons smuggling.

The haul included more than a dozen weapons - ranging from modern, fast-firing 9mm automatics through to high-powered heavy calibre revolvers.

But most alarming was the recovery of a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle and two Russian-style RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

The latter are absolutely deadly against anything but the most heavily armoured vehicles - and are regarded by police as "a nightmare weapon" in criminal hands.

Several of the 9mm automatics are also capable of being modified to full sub-machine gun status. Gardai believe the weapons supply network was supported by dissident republicans who now face severe funding problems.

Three men aged between 24 and 35 were arrested in the operation at Glanmire near Cork city.

The men - two brothers from Cork and a man from Offaly - were brought to the Bridewell and Togher Garda Stations. They can be questioned for up to seven days.

A woman in her 20s, also from Cork, was arrested a short time later.

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